About Peer

Peer's the digital content manager at StepChange Debt Charity. Apart from contributing to the MoneyAware blog and overseeing the charity's website and social media content, he’s walked to the top of every mountain and hill in the Lake District. Twice.

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My most recent posts

MoneyAware is 5 today – get the party hats out!

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Yes, the blog’s five years old today! In the last five years we’ve had 2.1 million visitors looking at just under 5 million pages and 1,000s of comments on over 650 articles.

From what was originally a six-month experiment, I’d say it’s been a bit of success…

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What are the 2016 benefit changes announced in the Autumn Statement?

posted by in Living with debt 2 Comments

UPDATE: This article was published in November 2015. Make sure you’re up to date with the 2016 benefit changes and how they may affect you. 

If you’ve been worried about the effects of the changes to tax credits due in the spring, then you’ll hopefully be breathing a sigh of relief today. The Chancellor George Osbourne announced a U-turn on the proposed changes in the Government’s Autumn Statement yesterday. But what else was announced during his 80-minute speech?

The Government’s Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review isn’t a page turner. But it affects the finances of a lot of people up and down the country. That’s why we asked our Policy team to try and explain the changes in language that even the MoneyAware team would understand.

At a glance it looks like this…

Potentially positive for you:

  • Reversal of tax credit cuts
  • Pension payments will increase
  • Extension of the Warm Home Discount to 2020-21

Potentially negative for you:

  • Changes to Universal Credit (UC) announced in the Summer Budget will still go ahead from 2016-17

Other things to be aware of:

  • There are changes to benefits paid to the self-employed
  • There are some small changes to JSA ‘conditionality’

Let’s look at these in more detail…

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So what is an ombudsman?

posted by in Living with debt 1 Comment

It’s an odd word is ‘ombudsman’. We always thought it sounded a bit Scandinavian.

And now we’ve found out that it is, thanks to this cute new cartoon video from the Financial Ombudsman Service, featuring Vikings and longboats.

They’ve looked at the history of the word (the etymology of it, if you want to look smart) in an effort to highlight what they do and the range of money-related issues they can help mediate on, all for free.

We love the service – they’re amazingly helpful when you’ve got a financial complaint that you feel isn’t being resolved to your satisfaction.

So we say it’s well worth catching the video below.

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Which bills should I pay first?

posted by in Budgeting 3 Comments

We’ve noticed a worrying trend of people coming to us for help with arrears on household bills. There has been a dramatic rise in people contact us for help with arrears on rent, council tax, gas, electric and water bills.

We often speak to people who’ve fallen behind on these sorts of bills but continue to pay off their credit card debt. If you’re struggling to pay your bills it’s important to know which ones are most important. Continue reading »

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Debt, separation and divorce

posted by in Living with debt Leave a comment

Recently we’ve been looking at how separation and divorce can quickly lead to unmanageable debt. We’ve found that 25 Brits a day contact us with debt problems after separating from their partners.

Taking action early is the key.

  • Identify which debts you are liable for
  • Explain the sitation to your lenders
  • Seek free debt advice

If you’ve got debt problems from a divorce or separation contact us for help. And for more information, read our blogpost The stress when debt and relationships collide.

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What do you say to your kids if you can’t afford something?

posted by in Budgeting 1 Comment

Child and calculator

What do you say to your kids?

Children are always asking for new trainers, mobiles, clothes, video games and much more. But it can be tough to say no if you can’t afford it. We asked our Facebook followers how they do it…

There might be many reasons you’d like to buy your kids the latest products and gadgets. You want them to have the things you didn’t have, you don’t want them to be bullied for appearing ‘uncool’, or you just want to give them a treat.

But if the money’s tight or it’s budgeted for other items it’s better to stay strong and resist the temptation to splurge. But how do you tell them that, so they understand that it’s not you being mean, but that finances are tight?

We asked our Facebook page followers how they deal with telling kids they can’t afford new ‘stuff’. We got some brilliant answers that showed a range of approaches: some were ‘to the point’, while others wanted to educate. And some were a bit cheeky!

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Debt collectors are not bailiffs

posted by in Debt news 1 Comment

debt collector bailiff

A stereotypical image of a bailiff

If you’ve got unsecured debt (for example from a credit card, personal loan, overdraft or store card) that you can’t pay and are losing sleep thinking that “the bailiffs are going to be called”, don’t worry.

Creditors of unsecured debts cannot send bailiffs (or enforcement agents, as they’re officially known) to your home.

Creditors can send, or threaten to send, doorstep collectors but it’s really important to realise that these people have no more power than someone ringing you. Quite often it’s just a scare tactic.

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